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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of ďgleaning the goodĒ where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.


An Honourable Man and an Honourable Offering


Hebrews 11:4, ďBy faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.Ē

Examples and witnesses of faith serve to instruct children of God today that God is both the same today as He was then (Hebrews 13:8), that we have the same faith as our fathers, and that Godís people have had similar trials and tribulations that our forefathers (in the faith) have had. (I Corinthians 10:13) When we read accounts, such as the one from the verse above, we glean insights into the causative workings of God as well as the voluntary response of Godís children from His providential direction.  Further still, we learn of the far-reaching impact of faith that can touch those that were never acquainted with the particular individual.  Let us examine some ďearmarksĒ of the faith in Abelís life to glean instruction for our exercise of faith today.  In doing so, we will find  ample motivation to offer resounding glory to God for His rich gifts of mercy that He has freely given us as the objects of His grace.

As we read the Genesis account of Abelís life, we learn very quickly that he is different from his brother Cain.  Not only is he different in his behaviour, but he is different in the sense of how God looks upon him.  Both brothers brought an offering to the Lord, Cain (as a tiller of the earth) brought the firstfruits of the ground, while Abel (as a shepherd) brought the firstlings of the flock. (Genesis 4:2-4) Looking at our verse above from Hebrews, we learn that Abelís sacrifice was more honourable than his brother Cainís.  It is imperative that we first and foremost understand why Abelís offering was more honourable than Cainís.  Without this crucial piece of information, we will miss the glorious truths that the Apostle Paul brings out in his reference to Abel in regard to faith.  Was the root or first cause of Abelís sacrifice being more honourable than Cainís a result of being a blood offering as opposed to a fruit offering? 

We learn from Genesis 4:4 that God first had respect unto the man, and then He had respect unto the offering.  The root cause of Abelís sacrifice being honourable is that God had respect unto him (whereas He had not respect unto Cain).  This tells the honest Bible student that Abel was one of Godís precious elect, whereas Cain was a hated non-elect. (I John 3:15) The root cause of Abelís faith was that God had given him faith to exercise.  Without this causative motion of God, there would be no honourable sacrifice made by Abel or any other man.  Paul emphasizes this point later in Hebrews 11:6 that faith is a MUST in order to please God.  So, if someone has a measure of faith, God is the author of it, as He has dealt it to them. (Romans 12:3) Indwelling faith, an effect of regeneration or the new birth, must be kept in view as the root cause of faith in anyoneís life.  Without this implanting of faith, manifestations of faith will always be void and non-existent.

So, now that we understand that Abelís cause of being righteous and a possessor of faith came from God Almighty, we can then address the impact of his righteous and honourable offering.  Because Abel is one of Godís precious children, he possessed the capability of pleasing God in his walk.  We must also state here that having capacity and using the ability are two different things.  While all of Godís born again children (in vital possession of faith) have the ability to please Him, certain seasons can find us not exercising our faith in ways that are pleasing to Him.  Let us explain it this way.  All people have muscles in their bodies.  Each one of us has the same number of muscles in the same places.  What makes some of us ďmore muscularĒ than others?  Why do certain men beat others in body building competitions that are judged on the size and definition of their muscles?  The difference is not having more muscles than someone else, but the winner has utilized or exercised his muscles to a greater degree than the others.

Likewise faith, as discussed in Holy Writ, teaches us that all of Godís children have been dealt that measure of faith from God, but not all of Godís children have exercised their faith to the same degree and level.  One may say, ďAbel had more faith (or greater faith) than I do.Ē  This is really an improper statement.  Our forefathers had the same faith that we do today, but I am afraid my own exercise of it is far inferior to theirs.  Knowing that Abel was not only a possessor of faith but an exerciser of it as well, let us now investigate the verbiage the Apostle Paul employs to describe that exercise.

Abelís offering was indeed a righteous blood offering of the firstlings of his flock.  This sacrifice shows that Abel had the faith to understand that an offering was necessary (of a blood type) to answer for the appeasement of Almighty God.  This offering pointed, the same way all the wilderness and temple sacrifices did year by year, to the ultimate offering at Calvary by our Lord Himself when He offered Himself to God once for us. (Hebrews 10:1-13) Abelís suitable offering was an effect of his honourable state in the sight of God.  He offered up to God (in a figure) what would come (Lamb without spot, and the Firstborn among many brethren) to fulfill all righteousness and put away sin forever for Godís people.

Furthermore, this offering obtains the witness for Abel that he was a righteous man.  God testifies that Abel is righteous by the acceptance of his offering.  God testifies to us today (through His word) that He was well pleased with Abelís offering.  Likewise today, people obtain witness that they are righteous by offering unto God sacrifices well-pleasing in His sight. (Hebrews 13:15-16) When we speak righteous things, walk in righteous steps, and live in righteous obedience to Godís precepts and our earthly magistrates, God is well pleased with our offerings (living body sacrifices).  Abelís walk of faith shows forth a pattern of looking to the One that has done all for us.  Abel, of course, lived on the other side of Calvary.  Therefore, his offering pointed toward Calvary (in a figure), while our offerings point backward to Calvary (in following Christís example).  But, the faith is the same, and our exercise of it needs daily attention.

The final phrase of the verse tells us that Abel (while dead) still speaks today in what he did while walking this earth.  While Godís children need not become preoccupied with their own ďlegacies,Ē we do need to understand that our actions (good and bad) can extend beyond the scope of our natural lives. (Revelation 14:13) What we do leaves an impact on those behind.  Our walk of faith (or lack thereof) can benefit (or damage) those that see our steps.  Paul tells us at the beginning of Hebrews 12 that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  I believe those witnesses of faith continue to this present hour as we see the faith of Godís elect being exercised in different ways and places in the world in which we live. 

Abelís faith still speaks today in his righteous offering to God, stemming from his righteous character from God.  His example is on record that he pleased God by his actions, and we can draw strength and comfort that if we align our steps in the ways pleasing to Him (Jeremiah 6:16), He will smile upon our efforts and bless us to grow in grace and knowledge of Him. (II Peter 3:18) As fathers and mothers, we need to impact our children for good in our walk of faith.  As church members, we need to impact our brethren for good in our walk of faith.  In the communities and workplaces that we travel in and among, people need to see our faith exercised in our walk and works that they may glorify our Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

When we have passed from the scene of this life, we will have no desire for the things happening here.  There will be no need, for our Desire will be before us clothed in glory and majesty.  We will rejoice in His presence forevermore.  But, may our steps here live on after we are gone and speak that God saw fit to give us the faith, and He blessed us to walk in it and look at things unseen.  As we travel and walk by faith, our concern will be on heavenly things, but a good consequence is that the lives of those we love here below will have experiences to draw from that one of Godís dear ones touched their life in a positive way.  May we seek the good of Zion and the brethren while walking by faith, for if we have done these things unto one of the least of His brethren, we have done it unto Him. (Matthew 25:40)


Philip N. Conley


Written: 2/11/2008

Revised: 3/5/2008